Have you been hearing funny noises in your house? Have strange sounds echoed through your chimney? While you might be tempted to think you have a ghost lurking about your home, it's actually more likely that you have a chimney critter.
- squirrel in roof - for photo credit click here
Why do animals go to chimneys?
Animals are like humans in the sense that they are drawn to warmth and food. So, many of them will crawl inside your chimney when temperatures drop outside. I mean, who doesn't enjoy napping next to a nice warm vent?
Birds are used to taking shelter in hollowed out trees so chimneys, with warm air and interesting smells, can be confusing for them.
Also, female animals will happily take up shop in your chimney when it comes time to give birth to their young. A woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do.
What animals will try to enter my chimney?
- Chimney swift - click here for photo credit
Chimney swifts have large wings and short legs that don't enable them to perch like other birds. Though, their long, sharp claws give them extra stability when clinging to hard surfaces like, you guessed it, chimneys!
Unless you have a permit, it is illegal to remove a migratory bird during nesting season. So, please do not try to remove them on your own. Thankfully, chimney swifts tend to not do much damage to chimneys, unlike other furry creatures we will discuss next.
- Squirrels in chimney - for photo credit click here
There are no laws against removing squirrels on your own. Though, you may need a chimney screwor boring tool to help you remove their nests because they are very dense and not easily broken apart. Don't forget, squirrels can open chimney dampers to enter your home and chew holes in your siding and roof. So, as cuddly as these little guys may seem, the last thing you want them snuggling with is your chimney.
The photo above may lead you to believe bats are friendly. However, they are not animals you want to mess with. Bats can carry rabies so, it's best to not risk irritating them by trying to "smoke them out" of your chimney if you happen to find them there. If you live in a rural area where bats are common, adding a bat house to your property will encourage them to seek shelter in that structure instead of your chimney or other buildings.
- Rats in pipe - click here for photo credit
Rats have collapsible spines that allow them to squeeze through holes in the wall the size of a quarter. Checking for holes in your roofing and chimney is crucial to making sure these guys stay outside where they belong. Like bats, they carry diseases, as well as, ticks and fleas. A stainless steel chimney cap is a great preventative measure for roof rats. Stainless steel is harder than galvanized steel and will help prevent rats from chewing.
- Raccoon in chimney
Often, momma raccoons end up in an attic or chimney because they are looking for a warm place to give birth to their young. While they may appear cute and cuddly, they will not hesitate to attack if they feel threatened. Professional animal removal services are your best bet to safely eliminate them from your home.
What do I do?
As mentioned above, chimney swifts can only be removed with a permit. Rats, bats, and raccoons often carry disease. So, it is not recommended to remove them yourself. Once animals get in, it will take time and patience to get them out. So the best method is preventative. Chimney caps also referred to as chimney tops, are the tried and trusted method to protect your chimney from "unlawful entry" as well as harsh winds, rain, and snow.
Types of chimney caps
- Tile mount cap
Tile or outside mount caps are the easiest to install and least expensive. They often feature a removable top with a frame that screws into the outside edge of a clay chimney flue. Their removable lids make cleaning a breeze. However, they don't hold up against strong winds so it's recommended to get a more durable model to ensure the safety of your chimney.
- Surface mount cap
Surface mount chimney caps are more expensive than their tile mounting brothers because they offer more protection for your chimney and cover the entire surface from harsh elements. They are made from aluminum, copper, or different types of steel and come in an assortment of shapes to perfectly match the shape of your flue!
Pre-Fabricated Pipe Caps
- Pre-fab pipe cap
Pre-fabricated chimney caps are the best option for metal vent pipes. They can attach to a gas, pellet burning, or wood burning fireplace. These chimney tops quickly snap into place for ease of installation. You can choose from steel, copper, or aluminum models.
- Anti wind cap
This design is made with a series of overlapping baffles that prevent wind from directly entering your chimney. They are also good for fireplaces that are prone to back puffing. They are more expensive than a standard chimney cap but are able to work with masonry or metal vent piping.
- Custom cap
Custom chimney caps are made with you in mind. You can get them in nearly any color, shape, or size your heart desires, or even for unique systems that don't fit the standard models.
Now that we discussed rats, bats, and chimney caps, we've come to the end of the article. We know, it's very sad. But don't worry, there's much more to discuss in the world of fireplaces and fireplace accessories. So, be looking out for the next feature coming your way soon!